The Axe Factor is the third Jimm Juree mystery from award-winning author Colin Cotterill.
Since Jimm Juree moved, under duress, with her family to a rural village on the coast of Southern Thailand, she misses the bright lights of Chiang Mai. Most of all, she's missed her career as a journalist, which was just getting started. In Chiang Mai, she was covering substantial stories and major crimes. But here in Maprao, Jimm has to scrape assignments from the local online journal, the Chumphon Gazette—and be happy about it when she gets one. This time they are sending her out to interview a local farang (European) writer, a man in his late fifties, originally from England, who writes award-winning crime novels, one Conrad Coralbank.
At the same time, several local women have left town without a word to anyone, leaving their possessions behind. These include the local doctor, Dr. Sumlak, who never returned from a conference, and the Thai wife of that farang writer, the aforementioned Conrad Coralbank. All of which looks a little suspicious, especially to Jimm's grandfather, an ex-cop, who notices Coralbank's interest in Jimm with a very jaundiced eye. With a major storm headed their way and a potential serial killer on the loose, it looks like Jimm Juree, her eccentric family, and the whole town of Maprao is in for some major changes.
Cotterill's outstanding third Jimm Juree mystery (after 2012's Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach) opens with an unposted blog entry "found two weeks too late." Signed with the initials C.C., the text is the first-person account of the slaughter and butchery of a woman with an axe. It concludes with plans for more bloodshed. C.C.'s real identity is apparently Conrad Coralbank, an English writer living in Thailand, whose career parallels that of Cotterrill. Juree, a freelance journalist now residing in a rural village on the south coast of Thailand, gets an assignment to profile Coralbank, with whom she's soon smitten. Meanwhile, the outrageously funny Juree, who conducts an imaginary e-mail correspondence with Clint Eastwood, grows increasingly suspicious about why a local doctor disappeared. Despite the grimness of the violence and the corruption Juree eventually uncovers, Cotterrill keeps the tone light, aided by the conceit of starting each chapter with Thai signage, replete with malapropisms (e.g., "Ladies are Requested not to Have Children in the Bar").